Local sporting goods store reports increase in sales for firearms, ammo
Skip’s Sport Shop of Grayling says its ‘gun sales have been higher than they’ve ever been in March’ following state and federal measures to combat the spread of COVID-19
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
At Skip’s Sport Shop in Grayling – similar to reports from firearm dealers throughout the nation – sales of guns and ammunition have increased significantly in the past several days following a series of efforts by state and federal government to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Jack Millikin of Skip’s Sport Shop said March is usually a slow month for the store since it’s a transitional period between sporting seasons. Not this year. This year, sales are up, he said.
“The last week, our sales are way above what we normally do this time of year,” Millikin said. “Our gun sales have been higher than they’ve ever been in March. Our ammo sales are better than they’ve ever been in March.”
Millikin said the increase isn’t just happening in Michigan.
“I think it’s everywhere, probably across the nation,” Millikin said.
Millikin said he believes there are multiple reasons why people are purchasing more guns and ammunition than usual right now.
“They talk about the virus and they buy a gun but the two don’t go hand in hand,” Millikin said. “They don’t come in and tell you they’re buying it because of the corona.”
Millikin said one reason for the spike may be that people are anticipating an increase in regulations with regard to firearms, and that with added gun control, firearms may be more difficult to purchase in the future.
“When they talk about gun control, when they talk about tightening up gun control around Michigan, sales go booming,” Millikin said. “I always believe, right or wrong, when we have a crisis, what we’ve seen in the last decade, when they threaten to tighten up gun control, that boosts the sales.”
Millikin said part of the increase in sales for guns and ammunition is due to what people are seeing in other places of business, like grocery stores, where shelves are limited or empty with regard to some items.
While people may be stockpiling groceries and sanitation items, clearing some of those shelves in the process, Millikin said customers in his store have not been buying large amounts of guns or ammunition at one time.
“They’re not really binge buying or overbuying. They’re just trying to make sure they have some if they need it,” Millikin said. “They come down here and they’re not trying to buy 10 (guns), they’re buying one.”
Millikin said the increase in sales has included a variety of buyers: hunters looking to stock up just in case of a shortage, target shooters looking to have ammunition for their hobby, people wanting to have ammo on hand for animal pest control, and people looking to bolster home defense.
“There’s a little bit of self-defense in it,” Millikin said.
Millikin said his suppliers are running low on some items but “it’s temporary.”
“Stock is running low with the suppliers, both ammo and guns, but there’s still a lot available,” he said.
To purchase a gun in Michigan, buyers must go through the process of a background check.
“Background check on buying any kind of firearm, that’s been in the state of Michigan for quite some years,” Millikin said.
The process is “usually instant,” Skip’s Sport Shop owners said, but it can take up to three days “unless something is found.”
Millikin said there is a “high volume of checks” right now due to the recent increase in firearm sales, but the process is still moving.
“It’s a national-style of background check. Sometimes people with more popular names take longer,” Millikin said. “Most of the time it doesn’t take long. The system’s backed up a small amount, but I don’t think it’s terrible.
“Their system is getting better. We can tell that their system can weed the people faster,” Millikin said. “There’s a lot to it.”
COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness believed to have originated in China. COVID-19 has spread throughout the globe and it has been classified as a “pandemic” by the World Health Organization, according to www.who.int. Its symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control, include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. In the United States, the CDC – as of March 18 – reported more than 7,000 cases of coronavirus with 97 deaths from the disease.